Solicitor General Jose Calida, representing the government, said that there is no legal basis to give state nurses Salary Grade 15 entry level rate.
Calida is defending the government from a 2015 petition filed by former Rep. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz of Ang Nars Party-list asking the Supreme Court to compel the Department of Budget and Management to enact a provision of Republic Act 9713 or the Philippine Nursing Act in 2002.
Section 32 of RA 9173 states that Nurse 1 should get Salary Grade 15 salary.
Arroyo issued Executive Order (EO) No. 811 by virtue of a joint resolution issued by Congress in 2009 and authorized her to modify the compensation and position classification system of civilian personnel and the base pay schedule of uniformed personnel in the government.
In an oral arguments set by the court on Wednesday, February 26, Paquiz says Arroyo’s executive order cannot validly repeal Section 32 of RA 9173 since only a law passed by Congress can repeal the latter.
Paquiz claimed that the DBM, through Assistant Director Edgardo Macaranas, acknowledged that there is a law providing for the entry level of government nurses to SG 15 but stated that the implementation of which will distort the hierarchical relationships of medical and allied positions in the bureaucracy and will require additional funding to the government coffers.
“By reducing the salary grade of nurses from salary grade 15 as provided for by RA 9173 to salary grade 11, Executive Order 811 has violated the principle of non-diminution of pay expressly provided for in Joint Resolution No. 4,” the petition said.
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Calida argued in his opening statement that a joint resolution is considered a law by lower and upper house of Congress.
“Joint Resolution No. 4, s.2009 effectively repealed Sec. 32 of Republic Act 9173,” Calida added.
“In the absence of any legal basis, respondents cannot be compelled to implement Section 32 of RA 9173,” he added.
Further, Calida said the petition should be dismissed for violating the hierarchy of courts. He said the group should have taken their case first before the regional trial courts and the Court of Appeals instead of going straight to the SC.
“Here, petitioners failed to demonstrate that neither the Regional Trial Courts nor the Court of Appeals are capable of granting them the remedy they wish to obtain, assuming that they are entitled to it,” the OSG added. (PNA)
“In view of this procedural infirmity, the instant petition should be dismissed,” Calida said.
Calida added that if the salary increase will be implemented, “it will create a great deal of disparity and inequity in the whole government structure, position, classification and compensation system.”
“Assigning SG 15 for Nurse 1 position leads to inequity and wage distortion in medical and allied positions, as well as other positions of the bureaucracy.”
“A Nurse 1 would be higher or more compensated than a Medical Officer, i.e. government doctor, with Salary Grade 14, Pharmacist I (SG 11), Optometrist I (SG 12), Occupational Therapist I (SG 11), Midwife I (SG 9), Medical Technologist I (SG 11), and Dentist I (SG 14). All of these allied medical professionals work in essentially the same conditions, but would become differently situated in terms of salary if Section 32 of RA 9173 would be enforced,” he explained.
Supreme Court ended the one-day oral argument and gave both parties 20 days to submit their memoranda.